Reed outlasts Fowler, Spieth to win Masters
AUGUSTA, Ga. — The echoes of champions mixed with the cheers and shouts of thousands as they rolled over the hills and through the Georgia pines at Augusta National Golf Club on Sunday, April 8, but Patrick Reed didn't hear many of them.
The loudest roar of the day came when Reed sank a final, testing, 4-footer on the 18th hole to finish off a one-shot victory at the Masters, earning his first major championship and quieting his doubters.
Reed fashioned a 1-under 71 to finish at 15-under 273, a shot clear of Rickie Fowler (final-round 67) and another in front of 2015 champion Jordan Spieth (64), who put on a clinic on Sunday before a bogey on the last hole ultimately dropped him into third place.
Reed, who won two NCAA national championships with Augusta State University in 2010 and 2011, had four birdies and three bogeys on his uneven round. He never felt the anticipated charge from playing partner Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who battled a balky putter and stumbled to a 2-over 74, six shots behind the winner.
"I knew the lead was going to shrink at some times and grow, that's just the flows of golf, and I had to know how to handle it," Reed said. "The only way I felt like I could get that done was to make sure the putter was working.
"I was tough out there, and to make the putts on 14 and 17 gave me that momentum going to 18, which in the past has given me so many issues. To have to make par at the last hole to win my first major ... it definitely felt right."
Jon Rahm of Spain (69) was fourth at 277. Five golfers—Cameron Smith of Australia (66), two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson (69), Henrik Stenson of Sweden (70) and McIlroy—tied for fifth at 279.
Fowler racked up six birdies and a lone bogey during his final round, including birdies on the 12th, 13th, 15th and 18th holes to put some pressure on Reed.
"I battled through the front nine very well, put myself into a position where I still had a chance," Fowler said. "I gave it my all and made (Reed) earn it."
Spieth made a stirring run up the leaderboard, starting the final round nine strokes behind Reed, who slept on the lead at 14 under. Spieth momentarily tied for the lead with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole, but he ran out of holes and magic.
"I was just trying to stay patient and let the golf course give what it could give on a Sunday," Spieth said. "I know where these Sunday pins are and I played the golf course exactly the way it needed to be played."
On the 13th, leading by one stroke, Reed was short of the putting surface on his second shot, but his ball stayed on the grassy bank rather than roll back into the water that fronts the green.
From there he pitched to within 8 feet but was short on his putt, leaving him tied with Spieth.
Reed birdied the 14th to get the lead back at 15 under and parred the 15th while Spieth was bogeying the final hole. Then Reed managed his nerves, and the charge from Fowler playing a group ahead of him, making pars on the final three holes to capture the victory.
"It's impossible to put this feeling into words," Reed said about his win. "Just to watch the ball going into the hole on the last hole ... it just meant so much to me."
Spieth got his only bad break of the final round on the closing hole, clipping the overhanging branch of a tree off to the left of the fairway, dropping his ball into the heavy grass short of the hill that heads up to the green. He eventually made bogey to just miss tying the tournament record of 63 established by Zimbabwe's Nick Price in 1986 and tied by Australia's Greg Norman in 1996.
Marc Leishman of Australia (70) finished alone in ninth at 280 while Tony Finau (66) and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson (69) were tied for 10th at 281.
In all, 31 players shot par or better over all the four rounds, but Tiger Woods wasn't one of them. Woods carded a 69 on Sunday but bogeyed the last hole to finish at 1 over. He tied for 32nd place.